Cross Country at Farchynys

Philip Davies who joined the QMGS staff in 1974, was a tremendous enthusiast for Farchynys who developed a real love for The Coach House and the Mawddach estuary, and chose to spend some of his retirement in a holiday home at Fairbourne. An immensely private man but with the driest sense of humour, Phil was a thoughtful linguist and a great runner. Known affectionately as The Veg, Phil ran the Farchynys marathon on many occasions and after successfully completing the London Marathon in a good time, became known to the boys as Runner Bean. He also completed the Great Farchynys Cycle Ride three times and briefly held the Staff record for the fastest time. He also invented the fiendishly difficult Farchynys Quiz and remains one of the all- time great Marians on the Mawddach. This is a small piece he wrote for the Marian in 1989.

Cross Country Weekends

On arrival at Farchynys a few minutes is given for unloading the minibus and unpacking, and then the call ‘Get ready!’ goes out and everyone dons athletic kit for the short Friday run to Bontddu and back. It’s about a mile and a half each way and you have to go past the pub once called the Halfway House to touch the milk bottles just outside Mrs Clarke’s house. The fastest will be back in well under 20 minutes but some of the non-runners may even be tempted to cut the run short. It can be a little frightening in the winter when it’s very dark and the car lights dazzle. After showers, we sit down to the meal on hearing Mr Jackson’s stentorian ‘Come and get it’. The rest of the evening is free, perhaps occupied in the summer by a walk and as always lots of table tennis.

Saturday morning is the time for the main event of the weekend, The Farchynys Run. Time is of course allowed after breakfast before starting on the half-marathon distance run which is about 13 miles. All pile into the minibus and travel to the bridge that Bontddu is named after (it means black bridge) where the water runs down from the mountain. If there are many participating, they may be up to three starts, the slow ones leaving first so that the group does not get too far apart. 

From Bontddu the road climbs steeply if you’re not too fit and goes gently downhill to cross the bridge at Penmaenpool, the first wooden bridge in the course. Then a long climb through deeply treed country following the estuary but much higher. The hill seems to be unending until at last there’s a steep downhill section into Arthog, after which a flat section leading to Morfa Mawddach station and the huge Barmouth bridge which carries the railway line and pedestrians. There is another steep rise from the bridge back into the road at Barmouth and ready for the home section in which the undulations seem like steep hills if you’re tired. The finish is back at the Coach House at Farchynys.

Everyone is timed and there are records for all years. The fastest was in one hour and the slowest 4 hours. It’s a beautiful run, and the writer has managed it 17 consecutive times. 

After tea, Saturday evening is much like Friday evening.

Sunday morning has varied: at one time a relay was held – quite exciting if you don’t want to let your team down, or a run along Barmouth beach or along the Trawsfynydd road. 

As always much of the Sunday morning is taken up with packing.

Beautiful scenery, fresh air and a good degree of fitness and training for the cross country are all to be enjoyed. A few of the runners have made top-class athletes, but all doing the run must have achieved a good degree of fitness. 


The Marian 

January, 1989